Pooja Mittal

Pooja Mittal was born and raised in Nigeria, although she has lived in various countries including India and New Zealand. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia, where she is studying at Monash University. She has been published in numerous journals of both the print and online varieties, including JAAM, Poetry Niederngasse, Jacket, Trout, Spin, Conspire, Southern Ocean Review and others. In 2001, she was featured poet for Poetry NZ—its youngest featured poet ever at the age of seventeen. She was also chosen as New Zealand’s representative for UNESCO’s Babele Poetica
snow prince

even now
the walls are white
and there isn't enough blood
to hide what we have done
from the world

your kisses left quickly, as if ashamed
your mind a small hut around which I walked
on muddy feet, then in & out
paying homage to your earth

snow prince, you are so small
your ankle dips into a quiet shadow
the shape of the moon.
when you are hungry
your voice is soft, so soft,
afraid to ask for food -
you curl on the bed like a fist,
a quiet rose, arms thin
and cold
and not very inviting.
I wonder when you left - why I didn't hear
when you left, why you don't speak
anymore in that soft voice.
why you don't beg.

but there is speech
in your body after all -
the bones of your wrist
that make quiet music
beneath your skin.  I lift your hand
to hear them...


you undress the flower
when you laugh,
and out over the glass
your body spills like a snake.

by your shoulders my hands are large.
when I look at your eyes my arms grow larger,
and my ears too, and my head,
and my tongue which becomes a carpet of
you laugh up at me, you are not afraid
that I am swallowing the sky.

it is safer this way.
you keep your words
(swimming in your belly)
I keep mine.  By the next moon
neither of us will know
who spoke
or who became the sky.

no sky now. the ceiling is a white square
and its edges trouble me, I know not why.
it is too far away to kiss.
with you asleep
I cannot grow, I cannot speak
I cannot move my mouth to kiss.

your eye, when it opens,
is a small black stone behind your elbow.
it stares at me.  I open my mouth to speak
but it silences me, that glittering stone
that hard stone
I want to take in my mouth and swallow.

your hair splits stars. you close your eye.

and I close my mouth again.

see? I did not speak
you did not laugh, serpent

I did not become the sky.

what desert

boys reaching out
to goddesses
on phone lines
and under aeroplanes.
sky in white
collar and blue suit -
travel lines
on the palm of your hand.

what desert
did you come from? she asked
and she was serious

what desert?

the desert of
designer shoes
golden mandalas
the desert of
forever leaning waists
over silver shopping
desert of love and
lollipops, of
coffee cold
in the morning
the sky sleeping
against your window
breath moistening
the broken flower.

and I had forgotten
what suffering was.

what desert
did you come from, she asked
leaning out from hers -
from the one
to the west, two stars
and one wrecked car
away from here.

next to the power pylon
by lake mississipi.

maybe I'll see you


am I the gun that fires or
the hand that holds the gun
or the man who owns
the hand that holds
the gun

damage is not
this swift black flowering
on the collar of your
shirt: breath
escaping in little
white pearls, gathered
in the moist oyster
of air.

I am a collector
of jewels.

come forth, blue
blasphemy, cool carbon
folded in hard pockets
in my hand: bullets
like pennies, gun's
empty stomach

no hunger here.

the voices shuffled
in playing cards in
my mind.  I follow
no one  5s orders
but mine.  I follow
the corner of your
mouth, carmine.

you are a name
I was summoned with.
death-demon. so smooth
your feet in their
lifeless shoes, my hands
unpacking the organs
of you, so smooth
in my little briefcase
your leg with its
soft angles & curves.

you a puzzle-piece
I fit together
with the rest of me.
let me reassemble you
here the dawn comes, carry
the both of us away
on this smoky train,
briefcase held
in my patient arms,
sun gathering
white knots of silk
beyond the clouds.